Citrix Unveils Cloud Platform For Rapid Desktop Deployment

Citrix on Tuesday unveiled a new mobility product called Workspace Services, which it touts as the first cloud-based platform to allow channel partners to offer enterprises rapidly deployable, highly customized virtual desktops connected to multiple clouds.

Citrix CEO Mark Templeton said the new offering will take enterprises "from zero to business-ready-desktop in a flash" at the close of his keynote on the first day of the Citrix Synergy convention in Anaheim, Calif. A preview version of Workspace Services will be released later this year, he said.

General Manager of Citrix's Workspace Services Group Mitch Parker then demonstrated the platform to the thousands of Citrix partners, customers and employees who filled the Anaheim Convention Center.

[Related: Citrix CEO Templeton Retiring Within A Year, Board Launches Search Committee ]

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Parker showed how a user could quickly connect to several public and private cloud services, such as Microsoft Azure, AWS or IBM SoftLayer, select from a range of customizable desktops or build a template desktop, add users, attach applications and then "publish desktops into the cloud." All enterprise users would then need to access their virtual machines in an HTML5 browser.

Parker only attached one app when creating his demo desktop -- Citrix Receiver -- and then explained how Receiver could be used as an online store to enable additional applications, or to connect from the virtual environment back to enterprise servers.

Parker said Workspace Services allows partners to design, build and deliver mobile workspaces on any cloud, whether it is a public offering or in a private data center, creating a true hybrid solution.

"We see a lot of power in connecting the different apps together and connecting the different providers together," Parker told the audience.

Citrix hasn't yet announced pricing or packaging information or how it plans on implementing licensing models. Parker said the company will work collaboratively with its partners on those issues. He said a number of announcements can be expected in the coming weeks.

While Citrix hailed its upcoming platform as a boon for partners, some in attendance expressed skepticism.

Dwayne Hamilton, a Michigan-based virtualization architect with Sirius Computer Solutions, said the new product really seems to be offering existing technology, just packaged and marketed a bit differently.

His colleague, David Collier, who works for Sirius in Colorado, said Citrix took what it's been doing for years and "they put a fancy wrapper around it and pretty label." Collier said he wasn’t sure whether the product will have value for his customers.

"Will we sell it? Who knows. Probably in some shape or form," he told CRN.

Both Collier and Hamilton said they doubted Workspace's multiple-cloud capability would be beneficial to many of their customers.

"Most customers have one cloud provider anyway, so why would they want all the integration parts?" Collier said.

Workplace Services builds upon a range of Citrix products, such as XenApp and XenDesktop, which deliver virtual apps and desktops, and also the XenMobile mobility solution technology.

And not surprising given Citrix's long-standing partnership with Microsoft, the service's control plane, carrying out administrative and cloud-brokering functions, will run on an expandable cloud platform in Azure, regardless of what clouds the user connects to for apps and data.

Templeton said Workspace Services ultimately presents a powerful platform for Citrix’s partners. ’It takes service provider partners to put together all of these pieces in the backdrop," the CEO told Synergy attendees.

Workspace Services also will give partners the ability to log in and track their customers "so they can add the value on top," Parker said.

"We're going to continue to build on it and make it open and extensible in that way," Parker said.

Parker said partners will soon be able to register to participate in the Workspace Services tech preview phase later this year.